In society today, some women may not even consider marrying. According to “The State of Our Unions,” there has been a decline in the marriage rate of over 50% from 1970-2010. However, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, marriage was often one of the few choices for a woman’s occupation. Reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen from the twenty-first century perspective might make some matters that are stressed in the book seem dated or trivial. As Pride and Prejudice was set sometime during the Napoleonic Wars, it is only fitting that finding a proper marriage is on the minds of many of the women in the book. Marriage and marrying off one’s daughters is a dominant theme throughout, with Mrs. Bennet going through the trials of getting her daughters married. Different views of marriage are presented throughout Pride and Prejudice, demonstrated by the characters, their behaviors and their situations. Charlotte Lucas marries for social reasons; Elizabeth Bennet searches for love and respect in her marriage; and the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet shows the dangers of marrying for attraction alone. The attitudes of these individuals towards marriage as well as others reactions to the different marriages show that the best marriages emerge from a mutual love and respect.
The marriage of Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins provides an example of typical reasoning for a marriage for the time period of the book. Charlotte is well past the marrying age of that time, as she is 27 years old (Austen 14) and while not unattractive,
very ordinary looking (Austen 112). Even though the chances of her marrying were low, Charlotte’s object was still to marry...
... middle of paper ...
...though she was not in love, proving that different unions can suit different people and situations. Marriages that come from trust, love, and respect, such as Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage, lead to happiness, and therefore, have the best outcomes. Austen shows that balancing prudence and passion can lead to the ideal union. Even though women have more choices today, some still feel defined by whether or not they do marry and who they marry. Although it was written in the nineteenth century, Austen’s portrayal of relationships and marriages can still be relevant today.
1. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice with Connections. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2001. Print.
2. Wilcox, Bradford, W. Stateofourunions.org. Rep. University of Virginia, 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.
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